Preparing the project defence

During the first year, all PhD students should produce a proposal for a thesis that will be defended before a committee. This examination aims to evaluate the student's ability to undertake original research at a PhD level. The thesis proposal is the first stage in the PhD program, and one of the most important ones, as it covers first achievements by the candidate and defines the final project. PhD students have only two opportunities to submit the thesis project and pass it: the first one in June (compulsory for first year students enrolled in a full-time basis), and the second one in September (for those who failed the June paper). 

Pat-time students can submit the thesis project during the first two years (see here the Structure of the PhD Programme), but they are also expected to present in June. If they do not pass the 'June paper', they will have a second opportunity in September. 

The PhD thesis proposal is a short monograph containing a clearly-defined scientific goal and a plan for achieving it. Everything else in the proposal is to show the student's competence and to support the plausibility of the goal and the plan. There is no set template or minimum length. We highly advise students to consult their supervisor, though below we provide you with some guidelines.

The project should be around 8.000 words in length (this number includes footnotes and bibliography), and must include the following sections:

  1. Introduction: explanation of the topic chosen; the research question or questions and the thesis objectives; relevance of the topic selected and an explication of the main contributions to knowledge the thesis could make.

  2. Research objectives.

  3. State of the art: bibliographical revision on the subject.

  4. Research plan and methodology (this is very important): include an outline establishing the different sections of the thesis o relation between possible articles.

  5. A schedule or calendar.

  6. Bibliography.


The following issues must be considered when preparing the project defence (no results will be required): 1) objectives; 2) hypotheses; and 3) methodologies.



The deadline for delivering the projects and supervisors’ reports is two weeks before the defence day. They have to be sent in digital version (Word or pdf) to the electronic mail of the members of the evaluation committee and to the administrative staff in charge of the doctorate program ([email protected]).



  • May, 14: Delivering of the projects (uploaded in the 'aula global')
  • June, 3: Presentation 

Please note that dates are subject to change due to the availability of the members of the evaluation committee (these are only approximate dates). You will receive a confirmation e-mail with the final dates for the presentations.


Preparing for the presentation

  • The oral defence can be done in any of the three languages of the UPF: English, Catalan or Spanish.

  • The presentation is organized following the alphabetic order of the student’s family name.

  • Each PhD has fifteen minutes to defend his/her project in a public session.

  • Power-point presentations are strongly recommended.

  • After the presentation the members of the committee make comments, ask questions or call for clarifications that the student has to answer in a satisfactory way. 


Doctoral Thesis Project Committee functions

Each student's PhD Project Defence will be assessed by a Doctoral Thesis Project Committee (DTPC). The functions of the DTPC are:

  • To assess the viability of the project

  • To identify possible problems 

  • To provide alternative solutions to these problems

The DTPC draws up a Committee report which includes an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the project as well as specific recommendations for improving its implementation.

Recommendations by the DTPC must be responsible, realistic, feasible and constructive. The DTPC cannot limit itself to highlighting weaknesses or giving criticism. It must propose viable solutions or approaches to solve potential problems. If the DTPC finds serious problems such as conflicts between a student and supervisor or if it disagrees with the student or the supervisor, the DTPC will report such conflicts and seek advice from the Committee of the Doctoral Programme.


Regulations of the Doctoral Thesis Project Committee

The PhD student will present his/her future PhD research project to the committee. The DTPC will consist of 3 researchers:

  • All three members must have a PhD degree and accredited research experience.

  • At least one of the 3 members of the committee will have an academic appointment with the UPF, such as a senior faculty member including ICREA, a research fellow (Ramón y Cajal, Marie Curie, etc.), a postdoc or an adjunct professor.


Evaluation Committee (2020-2021)


The members of the committee are the following:

June Call: 



Defences are open to the public, so anyone in the Department and beyond is welcome to attend.